Malawi sends only three members to SA festival
As artists continue to lobby for more support from the government, the country last week failed to send enough representatives to the Gcwala Ngamasiko Cultural Festival in South Africa.
The festival which brought on board several countries where they shared ideas but also displayed different traditional dances saw Malawi only sending three representatives namely Martha Mituka, who is the Musicians Union of Malawi ( Mum) Women’s Desk chairperson, Mum Treasurer Young Chilaga and Mum Northern region chapter Dyson Mbewe.
The government through the Department of Culture in the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture is said to have received an invitation to send close to 12 members to the festival.
But the government failed to raise money to send 12 representatives to attend the festival and fly the country’s flag.
The three representatives who arrived back home on Wednesday described the festival as an eye opener and that they learned a lot including flying the country’s flag.
But the trio bemoaned lack of support for the artists saying the country would have been represented well if they had the full requested number.
“There were only three of us which was simply not healthy. Infact we were the only country which has three members but the rest of the other countries had 15 members each. Their countries managed to pay for their artists and on top of that also travelled with journalists,” said Mituka.
Asked as to who funded their trip since the government failed to raise money for them, Mituka said they received support from MC Studio as well as Intercape.
She said because of their small number, Malawi could not participate in the competitions on their own as they had to do traditional dances collaborating with Seychelles and Free State province.
“Despite this challenge, we still did well in the competitions and our song ‘Tamukwela Ilala,’ came first. Our appeal to the government is to take their time to support arts. There are opportunities out there of displaying our talent as well as marketing the country but we are neglected,” said Mituka.
Mbewe described the festival as a perfect platform for networking and sharing ideas and said as Malawi they have come back home with lots of lessons which they will share with their colleagues.
Mum President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango also bemoaned lack of support from the government despite the festival organisers indicating that they would take care of everything during the excluding apart from transport.
“We were only told to provide transport otherwise the festival organisers said accommodation and food was all in order,” said Mhango.
He said arts has always played second fiddle in everything and yet the creative industry is contributing a lot to the development of the country.
The Gcwala Ngamasiko Cultural Festival is one of the big platforms and according to available information, it has its roots firmly embedded in preserving African cultural heritage in order to instill a sense of unity among African people.
The information further says that this initiative is a holistic concept aimed at the upliftment and preservation of African indigenous knowledge, cultural history, ubuntu and customary values amongst African people.
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